Then Jesus said to the disciples, Have faith in God.
Mark 11:22 (NLT)
Mark 11:22 (NLT)
According to some folks I’ve talked to over the years, the last thing you should do if God calls you to preach is attend seminary. When you have one of those discussions it will be all about how liberal thinking has turned many a young person’s faith sour. There is the inevitable “joke” about how he went off to th’ cemetery an’ his faith got kilt dead.
Grammar aside (I’m not a speech Nazi), it just ain’t always so! There are those whose faith actually grows during seminary years.
I’m one of those!
Elizabeth and I survived seminary life from 1980-83 in New Orleans. The saying is whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The saying got its roots in New Orleans!
We were a family of five living in a two bedroom mobile home on campus. Days began at 6am with getting the kids ready for school: breakfast, backpacks, refereeing arguments, and getting me ready for school. Classes were what you’d expect – except with prayer! After the last class of the day I hurried to a full time job as a bank teller.
Life was a blur. There were lots of times (especially Mondays) when I wanted to quit – just pack it in and head home.
About a year or so into this adventure we hit bottom. The pantry was empty, and the checkbook emptier; we were tired, frustrated and still had a week to go before payday.
Then the dreaded words showed up on a Monday: Registration! Tuition is DUE!
It was that time again.
Broke…drowning….nowhere to turn. Faith tank was on empty!
There were no classes on Mondays, so that was my time off for the week. And after the kids got off to school I sat down to read – or cry; I can’t remember which.
Elizabeth said, Hey, get a move on; you’ve gotta go register for next term.
I replied, Why? She said, You know why; get with it, Brownworth.
Me: Registration means you have to pay…last time I checked they don’t take I.O.U.’s.
Her: Get moving.
Me: Yes Ma’am! I’ll go, but I don’t know why we’re bothering.
We went through the registration carrying the baby, feeling like poachers; we couldn’t pay, but we were filling out class cards, book order forms and schedule requests.
Why were we doing this? We knew paying the bill was the last thing you did before you walked out the door. When it came time for paying the bill I turned to walk out the side door before the reaper could ask for my blood.
Her: Where you goin’?
Me: Where do you think? We did the line; it’s time to go home.
Her: Get back in the line; you have to write a check.
Me: I didn’t bring the checkbook.
Her: Why not?
Me: Are you kidding; if you open it only moths fly out. There’s nothing, NADA…zilch! When you’re a bank teller and you write a bad check they put you in Leavenworth! I’m not doing it!
Her: Go get it. I’ll keep your place in line.
Me: Ok, Ok….stop pushing.
When I got back to the trailer to get the checkbook I noticed the mail had come.
Amongst the bills and flyers was one of those pastel green envelopes we’d often seen from The First Baptist Church of Crystal River, Florida.
Home had spoken; our Sunday school class was God speaking up…again…at just the right time. The check was about $6 bigger than the bill in my hand for registration, tuition, fees and books.
Her: Did you bring it?
Me: (through the tears)…Yeah…I got it alright! (Maybe she thought “it” was the checkbook…but what I got was a faith woodshed experience!)
I regained my composure long enough to share with Elizabeth that the green envelope had arrived. We shared a prayer of thanks to our faithful God and then I wrote the check. At that time $6 bought a meal for a seminary student, spouse and toddler, so we went off to Burger King for a celebration.
Faith is never an easy way to walk with a God you can’t see, touch or really know what He’s up to; but it’s the way our God rolls.
Our faith can grow in the most unlikely spots, and when we least expect it, and in ways we can hardly imagine.
For You, Today…
Going through a rough patch? Here’s a question to chew on:
If your faith had never been stretched, would it ever have grown?